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interstate commerce, so manufacturing was not covered unless the assembly process crossed a state line. This ruling virtually nullified the Sherman Act in all manufacturing cases and allowed consolidation of industries and the formation of trusts to continue. The decision is exemplary of how in the late 19th century, business influenced government and the government (in this instance the Supreme Court) sided with big business and aided business while the businessmen, in apparent contradiction, declared their belief in laissez faire economics.Vagrancy laws: Southern state laws, passed as part of Black Codes in the fall andwinter of 1865 and 1866, designed to define (and limit) the rights of blacks. The vagrancy laws provided that blacks not "lawfully employed" could be arrested, fined, imprisoned for a year, or hired out to a man who would assume
responsibility for their future behavior and their debts (thereby putting the employee in debt to the employer). Arrest under these vagrancy laws could be triggered if a black person were found wandering about or being idle on a street corner or acting in a "disorderly manner" or being engaged in "disreputable occupations." Once arrested, the person would have a criminal record which could be used to deny him the right to vote and other rights. These laws and the Black Codes generally had the effect of putting blacks in positions of social subordination, economic destitution, and political powerlessness, and they convinced many in the North to support the Radical Republicans and firmer reconstruction policies than those instituted in 1865 by President Andrew Johnson. As a result of vagrancy laws, the Black Codes, and the Southern rejection of the ideal of liberty and equality for all in 1865, reconstruction startedover in 1867 under Congressional control.Veblen, Thorstein (1857-1929): An economist, sociologist, and social critic, Veblen wrote several books, the first and most famous of which is The Theory of the Leisure Class(1899). In it, Veblen criticizes the new industrial elite (the nouveaux riche) for establishing in the late 19th century a wasteful, hollow idea of how to live and measure merit, and he criticizes Americans generally foradopting this idea as the social ideal. The idea is that success isdetermined by becoming a member of the “leisure class.” Membership is marked by two characteristics. First, one receives income not by working and producing oneself but by manipulating the production of others—for which the manipulator receives more money than the producer. Second, merit and monetary worth are confused so that a person reveals his merit (gains admiration and prestige) by accumulating possessions and flaunting them—whatVeblen calls “conspicuous consumption.” Hence, Veblen denounces the get-rich-quick, fast-buck, anything goes mentality in business as contrary to the real basisfor prosperity--hard work and efficiency. Society should reject, in Veblen’s view,measuring the worth of an individual by how much money he makes (because it